We are Company H, 119th New York Volunteers Historical Association. The Association is made up of people that have an interest in American history and in particular the history of the American Civil War and the relationship of that war to the people of Long Island. Within the association there is Company H also known as Willis Company and The Long Island Soldiers Aid Society. The Association is a 501 (c) 3 non-for-profit organization. The Association is the Business part of the organization and we maintain a substantial collection of artifacts that pertain to the 119th NY and Long Island’s role in the Civil War. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
Company H, Willis Company, is the military, living history part of the organization and it is composed of a company of Infantry and Field Music. Officers and Non-commissioned officers are elected and at times appointed although these are elected positions, a military structure and chain of command is maintained while we are in “the field”.
The mission of Willis Company is to authentically portray soldiers during the American Civil War and more specifically the men that served in Company H of the 119th NY during the time of the war. Upon successfully being accepted into the company, each man is given and at times picks a man from the original roster to portray. We strive to research our “aka’s” as much as possible and in some cases our members are descendants of the men they portray and in other cases the men have contact with the families of the original men of the company.
As a company we attend events throughout the year that range from local living history encampments to battle reenactments to living history encampments at National Parks, school and other educational programs, parades and we have the honor of being the “in house” Civil War organization at Old Bethpage Village Restoration which gives us the opportunity to conduct and attend programs at that unique historical treasure.
Our members portray Infantry Soldiers and Field Musicians as authentically as possible. We maintain a list of approved vendors that produce some of the finest reproductions of items from the time periods we portray and we have a Quartermaster Committee to assist new members in making purchases. While we do have items that are available to be borrowed we ask that new members obtain their “kits” within a year of joining our ranks.
Requirements for membership are that prospective members must be over 16 years of age to portray an infantry soldier and at least 12 years of age to portray a musician. Each prospective member of Willis company should keep in mind that safety is a very big concern, Reenacting can at times be physically challenging and while we do fire blanks, our firearms are very real and very dangerous. Due to these concerns we have to insist that all prospective members age 16 and older demonstrate a proficiency in handling black powder weapons and performance of basic period drill. Prospective members wishing to participate as Field Musicians must be able to attend weekly music lessons at Old Bethpage and show proficiency with their instruments. Prospective members should also be able to take and obey orders from Officers and NCOs while in the field.
The Long Island Soldiers Aid Society
The Soldiers aid Society is a group that portrays civilian life during the time of the war. Members are expected to portray and know the lifestyle of civilian men and women of the time period and especially those people from Long Island. The Soldiers Aid Society attends the same types of programs and events as their military counterparts and they are expected to do so as authentically as possible. The members of the Soldiers Aid Society will assist and guide prospective members as to the proper clothing and items needed to portray the time periods involved.
Joining the Organization
If everything you read so far piques your interest and you would like to learn more about our history and at times relive that history, If you ever wanted to know what it was like to “be there” or you desire to gather more information about joining us, please contact us by either attending one of our meetings which are held the second Wednesday of each month in the auditorium of the visitors center of the Old Bethpage Village Restoration or by contacting our Recruiter at the e-mail address below. We look forward to meeting you and sharing your love for history.
For information contact our recruiter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings held the second Wednesday of each month except December at 8:00 PM in the visitors center auditorium at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, NY 11804.
Visitors are always welcome.